494th Fighter Squadron

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494th Fighter Squadron
494th Fighter Squadron.jpg
494th Fighter Squadron Patch
Active 15 January 1941 – 7 November 1945
10 July 1952 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Fighter
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe
3d Air Force
48th Fighter Wing
48th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ RAF Lakenheath
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Meritorious Unit Commendation.jpg Navy MUC
Belgium Fourragère
F-15E-63-MC Strike Eagle - 00-3004 from the 494th Fighter Squadron takes off on 11 April 2010
494th TFS F-111F - 74-0184
494th TFS F-4D-29-MC Phantom - 66-7502
F-100D-15-NA Super Sabre - 54-2277
North American F-100D Super Sabres of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at Chaumont Air Base, 1957. The aircraft in foreground, Serial 54-2222 is Wing Commander's Aircraft. Note the blue, yellow and red stripes on the vertical stabilizer symbolizing the colors of the 492d [blue], 493d [yellow] and 494th [red] Squadrons. in the French tricolor.
F-86F-35-NA Serial 53-1222 of the 494th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 1955
Emblem of the World War II 494th Fighter Squadron.

The 494th Fighter Squadron (494 FS) is part of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England.


The 494th FS is a combat-ready F-15E Strike Eagle squadron capable of executing strategic attack, interdiction, and counter air missions in support of United States Air Forces in Europe, United States European Command, and NATO operations. It employs the full array of air superiority and surface attack munitions to include the most advanced precision-guided weapons in the USAF inventory. The squadron is capable of deploying to any theater of operations in the world.[1]


World War II[edit]

Activated as a Southeastern Air District Army Air Corps training squadron, equipped with a variety of second-line aircraft, both single and twin engine, preparing its pilots and maintenance crews for eventual combat. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the squadron flew antisubmarine patrols from, March–April 1942. Resumed aircrew training, many of the group's members went on to serve in squadrons stationed in Europe and the Pacific theaters.

Eventually coming under the AAF III Fighter Command in 1944, trained replacement pilots with P-47 Thunderbolts, Converted in January 1944 to an operational fighter squadron with the end of RTU training. Deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to the IX Fighter Command in England, March 1944.

Almost immediately after their arrival, the squadron began a rigorous training program, flying dive-bombing, glide bombing, night flying, low-level navigation, smoke laying, reconnaissance, and patrol convoy sorties. Over the next two months, the number of sorties steadily increased and the squadron flew its first combat mission on 20 April 1944—an uneventful fighter sweep of the occupied French coast.

Assisted the Normandy invasion by dropping bombs on bridges and gun positions, attacking rail lines and trains, and providing visual reconnaissance reports. Moved to France in mid-June 1944, supporting ground operations of Allied forces moving east across northern France throughout the war: primarily providing support for the United States First Army. Eventually was stationed in Occupied Germany on V-E Day.

On 5 July 1945, the squadron arrived in Laon, France. After a few weeks back in France the squadron received orders to return to the US. With many of the members separating at port, those remaining set up the headquarters at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina and was programmed for deployment to Okinawa to take part in planned Invasion of Japan. Training discontinued after Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the sudden end of the Pacific War.

Two months later on 7 November 1945, the squadron inactivated as part of the massive postwar draw down.

Cold War[edit]

Reactivated in 1952 as a NATO Fighter-Bomber squadron assigned to France. Equipped initially with F-84G Thunderjets, upgraded in 1954 to F-86F Sabre aircraft. conducted operational readiness exercises and tactical evaluations. Honing bombing and gunnery skills. The squadron frequently deployed to Wheelus AB, Libya for training.

Then in late 1956 the squadron upgraded to the F-100D Super Sabre. However the nuclear-weapon capable F-100 caused disagreements with France concerning atomic storage and custody issues within NATO, resulting in a decision to remove Air Force atomic-capable units from French soil. On 15 January 1960, the squadron and its host 48th TFW moved to RAF Lakenheath, UK.

Between 1960 and 1972 the squadron's F-100 fleet maintained its readiness by participating in a number of USAFE and NATO exercises training to react to possible aggression from the Soviet Union. They underwent a series of NATO tactical evaluations. The squadron conducted several deployments to Turkey, Italy, Spain, and across the United Kingdom.

Beginning in late 1971 the squadron started its conversion to the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II, with the aircraft being transferred from the 81st TFW at RAF Bentwaters. The conversion to the F-4D took several years, with the last F-100 departing in August 1974. With the arrival of the Phantoms, the F-4s adopted a common tail code of "LK". This tail code lasted only a few months as in July and August 1972 the 48th TFW further recoded to "LN".

The F-4's service with squadron was short as operation "Ready Switch" transferred the F-4D assets to the 474th TFW at Nellis AFB Nevada. The 474th sent their General Dynamics F-111As to the 347th TFW at Mountain Home AFB Idaho, and the 347th sent their F-111Fs to Lakenheath in early 1977. Unlike the previous F-4 transition, the F-111 change took place quickly and without any significant problems. Almost immediately after changing aircraft, the squadron began a series of monthly exercises and deployments that took the Liberty Wing to Italy, Iran, Greece, and Pakistan.

The 494th also participated in Operation El Dorado Canyon, the air raid on Tripoli, Libya on 14 and 15 April 1986. It flew combat missions in Southwest Asia from, January–February 1991 as part of Operation Desert Storm.

Modern era[edit]

In the midst of the organizational changes, the squadron switched aircraft again, exchanging the F-111s for the F-15E Strike Eagle in early February 1992. The Strike Eagle represented a change from a strictly ground attack role to a dual role mission for the 494th: air interdiction and air superiority.

The squadron participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya in March 2011, along with numerous deployments to Southwest Asia supporting Air Expeditionary units as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). [2]


  • Constituted 57th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Re-designated: 57th Bombardment Squadron (Dive) on 28 August 1942
Re-designated: 494th Fighter Bomber Squadron on 10 August 1943
Re-designated: 494th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 30 May 1944
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Re-designated 494th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 25 June 1952
Activated on 10 July 1952
Re-designated: 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 8 July 1958
Re-designated: 494th Fighter Squadron on 30 November 1991
  • Designated as 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron when squadron components deployed to support Air Expeditionary operations after 1 October 1994.



Attached to 48th Fighter Wing [Provisional], 2 September 1990 – 15 March 1991
Attached to 7440th Composite Wing, September–December 1991
United States Air Forces Central Command when 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed to combat areas after 11 September 2001.



Deployed to: Ta’if, Saudi Arabia, 2 September 1990 – 15 March 1991
Deployed to: Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, September–December 1991
Deployed to: Aviano, Italy, 48 EFW alongside Triple Nickle 333rd F-16 squadron, March–June 1999.



From To Aircraft
1941 1941 A-18 Shrike
1941 1942 A-20 Havoc
1942 1942 A-31 Vengeance
1943 1943 A-35 Vengeance
1943 1943 P-40 Warhawk
1943 1944 P-39 Airacobra
1944 1945 P-47 Thunderbolt
1952 1954 F-84 Thunderjet
1953 1956 F-86 Sabre
1956 1972 F-100 Super Sabre
1974 1977 F-4 Phantom II
1977 1992 F-111F Aardvark
1992 Present F-15E Strike Eagle




See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ 48 OG Fact Sheet
  2. ^ a b c d e f AFHRA 494 FS Page
  3. ^ Maurer 1983, pp. 106-107.
  • Johnson, David C. U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, 1988.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-912799-02-1.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Combat squadrons of the Air Force, World War II. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1982.
  • McAuliffe, Jerome J. U.S. Air Force in France, 1950-1967. 2005.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links[edit]